With family by his side, former Kansas City Chiefs head coach Marty Schottenheimer died peacefully from complications related to Alzheimers on Monday, February, 8. The NFL mainstay was 77 years old.
First diagnosed with the progressive cognitive disease back in 2014, Schottenheimer was moved to a hospice facility near his home in Charlotte, North Carolina on January 30, according to a statement from his family on February 3. He was listed in stable condition at the time of his transition.
Schottenheimer leaves behind his wife of 54 years, Pat, two children, Kristen and Brian, brother Kurt, and grandchildren Brandon, Sutton, Savannah and Catherine.
“We know he is looking down on us from heaven and smiling,” said Kristen, his daughter. “We are so incredibly proud of the man he was and how he lived his life.”
Those wishing to reach out to the Schottenheimer family are encouraged to do so through the late coach’s foundation at www.schottystrong.com. Donation links and mailing information are provided on the site for his charities along with a “Share Your Memories” section in which fans may leave condolence messages for his family.
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Schottenheimer Spent 31 Years Coaching in the NFL
Schottenheimer, a Canonsburg, Pennsylvania native and University of Pittsburgh graduate, spent more than half of his life in and around the highest levels of football. As evidenced by his induction into the Chiefs Hall of Fame in 2010, Schottenheimer was most widely recognized for his decade-long stint as the team’s head coach from 1989-98. With a 101-58-1 record in Kansas City, he trails only Hall of Famer Hank Stram in wins (124) and current frontman Andy Reid in win-loss percentage (.711 to .634) in the franchise’s storied history.
His time in K.C. was bookended by head coaching stints with the Cleveland Browns (1984-88), Washington Football Team (2001) and then-San Diego Chargers (2002-06), where he was named the AP NFL Coach of the Year in 2004 after turning in a 12-4 effort following a 4-12 record the year prior. He guided the club to an NFL-best 14-2 record during his final year with the team in 2006.
His time in Cleveland dated back to 1980 as the club’s defensive coordinator, a role he first earned when he broke into the NFL coaching ranks with the New York Giants in 1977. Before that, he enjoyed a six-year playing career as a middle linebacker with the Buffalo Bills (1965-68) and Boston Patriots (1969-70), even earning a Pro Bowl nod as a rookie.
Despite his defensive-oriented “Martyball” teams never reaching the pinnacle of a Super Bowl title, Schottenheimer compiled a career 200-126-1 record as a head coach, one of only eight coaches in pro football history to reach the 200-win milestone, per Pro Football Reference.
He also opened up doors for some notable coaching names along the way, including but not limited to Bill Cowher, Tony Dungy, Bruce Arians, Herm Edwards and Mike McCarthy.
The Schottenheimer Coaching Legacy Lives On Today
Schottenheimer’s only son, Brian has continued to build upon his father’s NFL coaching legacy and was recently hired as the passing game coordinator/quarterbacks coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars on February 1.
Like his dad before him, the 47-year-old already boasts a lengthy coaching resume. Beginning in 1997 and spanning 24 years across the college and professional levels, the younger Schottenheimer’s career includes notable stints with the Chiefs (1998), San Diego Chargers (2001-05), New York Jets (2006-11), St. Louis Rams (2012-14), Indianapolis Colts (2016-17) and most recently the Seattle Seahawks (2018-20).
The family business also extended to Kurt Schottenheimer, Marty’s younger brother, who spent 12 seasons in various roles on the Chiefs coaching staff between 1989-2000, including all nine alongside him. The now-71-year-old spent nearly four decades of his life on the sidelines, most recently serving as the head coach for the United Football League’s Virginia Destroyers in 2012, the role his older brother preceded him in the year prior.
Colleagues Remember Schottenheimer
A number of former coaches, players, staff members and even on-field rivals have chimed in on the legend’s passing, including some notable names from Chiefs Kingdom.
Clark Hunt, Chiefs chairman and CEO
“When Marty arrived in 1989, he reinvigorated what was then a struggling franchise and quickly turned the Chiefs into a consistent winner. Marty’s teams made Chiefs football a proud part of Kansas City’s identity once again, and the team’s resurgence forged a powerful bond with a new generation of fans who created the legendary home-field advantage at Arrowhead Stadium. Marty will always hold a special place in the history of the Chiefs, and he will be dearly missed by all of us who were blessed to call him a friend.”
Carl Peterson, former Chiefs president and general manager
“I followed his coaching career, and in mid-January of 1989, Marty called me to let me know that he had been fired as the head coach of the Cleveland Browns. He knew that I was looking for a head coach for the Kansas City Chiefs. I hired Marty after his second interview, and some said at the time that the ‘relationship between Peterson and Schottenheimer would never last.’ Well, it lasted 10 years! Marty was exactly what I was looking for in the next head coach for the Chiefs and Lamar Hunt, our owner, concurred. Perhaps Marty’s greatest asset was his ability to meticulously put together every facet of the game, and get his players to trust him, and buy into what he and his coaches were trying to accomplish.”
Bill Cowher, former linebacker, head coach and Pro Football Hall of Famer
“It’s hard to put into words what Marty Schottenheimer meant to me. I played for him, I coached for him. He mentored me at such a young age. He was an amazing coach, teacher and leader. I will always be indebted to the guidance and support he gave me. To Pat, Kristen and Brian, the NFL lost a legend but the good Lord has gained a leader. Marty, you say, “There’s a gleam, men,” there is and it was always “YOU.” RIP Coach. Love you and thank you.”
Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints quarterback
“If you look up football coach in the dictionary, it should have a picture of Marty Schottenheimer. An incredible teacher, mentor, and coach. Toughness and discipline were his hallmarks. He cared so much for his players and family and brought out the best in all of us. Marty Schottenheimer was so influential in my career and I am honored to have played for him.”
LaDainian Tomlinson, former Chargers running back and Pro Football Hall of Famer
“The best coach I ever had. I never went into a game with Marty as coach feeling like I wasn’t fully prepared to win. He really wanted you to understand every detail of the game plan. I considered him a true All-American man. He was a great father figure and I was fortunate that my wife and I got to know he and Pat beyond the typical player and coach relationship. He was a well-rounded human being. He cared more about the man than the athlete. I will remember him more for the life lessons that he taught me.”
Bernie Kosar, former Browns quarterback
“Marty Schottenheimer’s attention to detail was legendary, he had no equal. He prepared us for every situation we would face in a game. He was also amazing in his ability to be positive and to move on no matter what happened.”
Mike McCarthy, Dallas Cowboys head coach and former Chiefs quarterbacks coach
“If it wasn’t for Marty Schottenheimer, I wouldn’t be writing this – because I wouldn’t be where I am today. Marty gave me my first NFL opportunity in 1993, but it was so much more than that, he gave this young coach a roadmap for life. Marty’s fingerprints can still be felt all over so many things I do every day as a coach, but it is what he taught me as a man that I’ll be forever grateful for.”
Mike Davidson, Chiefs assistant historian and former head equipment manager
“If it was important to you, it was important to him. That’s how I felt about Marty Schottenheimer. He made you feel included. He always wanted to know what you needed to get your job done. And he was always a teacher: on the practice field, game day and even on the golf course. He believed in me before I even believed in myself.”
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Chris Licata is an NFL contributor covering the Kansas City Chiefs from enemy territory in Denver, Colorado. Follow him on Twitter @Chris__Licata or join the Heavy on Chiefs Facebook community for the latest out of Chiefs Kingdom!